One of the big obstacles to diversity in computing is that people don’t see its relevance to them. They can’t picture themselves as part of the field. They don’t really know what the field looks like, but they have vague images of spotty youths in darkened basements with endless supplies of pizza and coke.
That could not be further from my experience of computing, and of computing professionals. Everyone has a different story, and well over half of the people I talk to never actually intended to go into computing. In fact I was one of those people. I confessed at a school assembly recently that I actually wanted to do medicine, but I didn’t get in. I played with computers a bit in school and thought they were fun, but I never saw myself as a computer person.
I took Computer Science as a fill in subject in first year, and was rather surprised to find myself doing all CS by third year. I was even more startled to find myself in honours, and the PhD came as a complete shock. I certainly never intended to become an academic, and teaching was not on the agenda at all. You may have noticed I suck at predicting my career path.
So my path into CS was not normal, but it turns out that not normal is quite normal where CS careers are concerned. No two stories are alike.
So now, thanks to the generous and enthusiastic support of my interviewees, I am capturing those stories. Check out my Youtube Channel, Why Compute, at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCh7s5uEutevv6dPG4_DwJXw
You might be surprised. This is what a Computer Scientist looks like.